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International Human Resources Day - An Interview with Our HR Manager

International Human Resources Day – An Interview with Lin Robbins.

International Human Resources Day is recognised as a day to commemorate the invaluable contributions and dedication of HR professionals in nurturing business operations and overseeing the entire employee lifecycle. Lin Robbins has witnessed significant transformations at KK over the decades, having joined the company almost 40 years ago as a Junior Secretary and progressing through various roles, culminating in her current position as our HR Manager.

In honour of Human Resources Day, we engaged in a conversation with Lin to delve into her journey at KK, her most notable accomplishments, and her observations on how the company has evolved over the years.

Comparing Then and Now...

Lin reminisces on her early days at KK, fresh from completing her A-Levels with no plans for further education. KK had reached out to her school in search of a Junior Secretary, a role that aligned well with her typing skills, which she considered her strong suit. Just a week after finishing school, she embarked on her journey at KK. Reflecting on the past, Lin describes the differences in the company's operations during its early stage. A significant part of her responsibilities involved manual organisation of files, serving tea and coffee in polystyrene cups, distributing them on trays in the morning and afternoon to each desk. Additionally, she was tasked with delivering mail to the post office on her way to catch the bus home at the end of the day. Lin notes the substantial changes over time, with processes and digitalisation significantly transforming traditional roles. Initially, she typed on a typewriter with multiple carbon papers, correcting errors with Tipp-ex.

Comparing Lin’s early experience to KK in 2024, operations have become more streamlined, and roles have evolved significantly. Lin highlights a significant shift in the current organisational structure, and the increase in specialised roles compared to the past when individuals juggled multiple responsibilities. Now, there is a clear representation of specific titles, with distinct positions such as Bid Writers and HR professionals. In contrast, Lin describes the era where a single person might wear a variety of hats, like the traditional PA role involving labour-intensive duties such as taking dictation with shorthand and transcribing letters for executives. Initially, a small team managed a myriad of functions ranging from bidding and invoicing to insurance and marketing. As the company expanded, the demands for specialised expertise grew, prompting roles to evolve into more specialised jobs. Lin's particular interest in the interpersonal aspect of the business, naturally steered her towards HR as the next logical progression.

Lin's professional journey has led her through a variety of roles, commencing as a Junior Secretary, transitioning to a PA for a partner, and later immersing herself in business support as a Company Administrator. However, she acknowledges HR as her passion. Reflecting on a pivotal moment in 2015 when health challenges arose, Lin describes her appreciation for the company’s support throughout this period. Upon her return, she embarked on pursuing her CIPD Level 5 to give her clear credibility within HR, which KK supported her throughout.

Having remained at KK for so long, Lin describes how this has provided her with a unique perspective, having welcomed numerous team members throughout the years. She has been instrumental in the transition from taking paper-based systems across into a digital environment. Significantly, Lin was heavily involved with developing our online ‘HR’ platform, which luckily happened ahead of covid, avoiding the impracticality of manual processes like holiday requests within a remote work setting.

The Original Bristol Office

Recalling her first few years at the company, Lin's transports us to the original KK office within a Victorian house in Bristol's Redland. Likened to a tardis by staff at the time, it was set over 3 floors, including mezzanine levels, with the office expanding as the company grew, adding an extension, using additional spaces like the roof, basement, and later purchasing the adjacent property to acquire more office space. However, she explains how it was becoming impossible to know where people were due to the higgledy-piggledy layout. Lin worked here for 6 years before the office had been outgrown, leading them to move to where our Bristol team are still based to this day in Stoke Gifford, and marking a new chapter in KK’s evolution.

Her Proudest Moments 

The HR software stands out for Lin as a significant investment the company made, in which she takes pride in her involvement. Having acquired new skills within the realm of HR, including business reporting, through her Level 5 studies, she used these skills to present a compelling case to the board about the benefits and its potential to impact the company, which proved itself essential.

She has also played a significant role in shaping the company culture through initiatives such as our agile working policy. Additionally, she has been instrumental in developing our award benefit strategy, a project on which her team has dedicated considerable effort. This strategy aims to recognise employees' milestones with awards as they advance within the company. Implementing these strategies involved extensive behind-the-scenes work to identify the most effective approaches. She takes great pride in the successful outcome, effectively balancing the company's operational needs with the personal wellbeing of staff.

Looking Forward

Lin is currently focused on launching our new employee engagement platform that will further enhance our work culture. She is also actively involved in expanding the KK Academy, extending our structured training programmes to assist our employees in their chosen career routes as they progress.

In her Free Time

Lin says that she's a huge foodie. She enjoys cooking, eating out at restaurants, and watching cooking shows. She also has a strong passion for gardening. Lin shares an allotment with her sister-in-law and mentions that you can usually find her there on weekends, knee-deep in mud! She emphasises the significance of engaging in outdoor activities for wellbeing and expresses her absolute love for gardening.

The KK Way

Regarding the essence of KK's culture, Lin says that there has always been a family feel at the heart of it. No matter how big or how small it’s been, KK has always nurtured a sense of community, prioritising the wellbeing of its staff. This is a huge reason Lin says she’s remained at KK for so long and has never felt an urge to look elsewhere!

We all express our gratitude to Lin.